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The neurobiology of self-processing in abused depressed adolescents

  • Karina Quevedo (a1), Rowena Ng (a2), Hannah Scott (a1), Garry Smyda (a3), Jennifer H. Pfeifer (a4) and Sandra Malone (a1)...


Maltreatment is associated with chronic depression, high negative self-attributions, and lifetime psychopathology. Adolescence is a sensitive period for the formation of self-concept. Identifying neurobiomarkers of self-processing in depressed adolescents with and without maltreatment may parse the effects of trauma and depression on self-development and chronic psychopathology. Depressed adolescents (n = 86) maltreated due to omission (DO, n = 13) or commission (DCM, n = 28) or without maltreatment (DC, n = 45), and HCs (HC, n = 37) appraised positive and negative self-descriptors in the scanner. DCM and DO showed hypoactivity in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) while processing positive versus negative self-descriptors compared to DC youth, who in turn showed reduced dACC recruitment versus HC. HC youth showed the highest activation in the dACC and striatum during positive self-descriptors; these regions showed a linear decline in activity across DC, DO, and DCM. Low dACC activity to positive versus negative self-descriptors was linked to inadequate coregulation of children's emotions by parents. Negative self-cognitions prevalent in DCM and DO adolescents may be perpetuated by activity in the dACC and striatum. Reduced activation of the dACC and striatum for positive self-descriptors, coupled with enhanced activity for negative self-descriptors, may heighten the risk for persistent depression.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Karina Quevedo, Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota, F282/2A West, 2450 Riverside Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55454; E-mail:


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This work was supported by Grant K01MH092601 from the NIMH and a NARSAD award (to K.Q.) and an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (00039202 to R.N.). We thank Dr. Kathleen Thomas, mentor of the first and second authors.



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The neurobiology of self-processing in abused depressed adolescents

  • Karina Quevedo (a1), Rowena Ng (a2), Hannah Scott (a1), Garry Smyda (a3), Jennifer H. Pfeifer (a4) and Sandra Malone (a1)...


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